[Tony] - Tony Oakden (Micro-Forte)
[Yurg] - Yuri Bushin (Freelancer)
Could you please tell what each of you had on his mind starting the work on Fallout Tactics - and how close the final shape of the future game to your initial plans?
[Tony] Making a fun game and getting it finished on time to a good standard.
[Yurg] How well-grounded the decision to put the Tactics plot between the
events of first and second Fallout? Maybe it could be easier to set the plot time beyond the time frames of initial series, for you to have less limitations working on the game?
[Tony] Well that would have been an easier path. However I think Interplay wanted to leave Fallout 2 as the end point in the history. Maybe they intend to pick the series up later?
[Yurg] How are you making designer decisions in Tactics? What are the basic reasons to accept or reject each particular idea?
[Tony] Whenever we have to reach a design decision I gather together experts in the fields. For example if it is a design problem I get Karl , Ed and Paul together and we discuss the options. Generally I go by whatever decision the group comes up with but if I feel strongly enough that they are wrong then I argue with them. I try not to force my opinions through but sometimes comitees can not reach decisions and I have to step in to decide.
[Yurg] How much helpful were the demos for the project? What were your exact benefits from it?
[Tony] The demos where extremely helpful for a number of reasons;
It gave us a chance to get early feedback from the fans on what they thought of our progress. In this case it highlighted the short comings of TB and CTB. Handled properly Demos are a chance to do a huge focus group test;
The demos are like a "Dress Rehearsal" for a stage play. The demos have to be fully QA'd and tested and released on time. After we had done the single player demo we had a much better idea of the sort of problems we would encounter on the multi-player game and releasing that has shown us a lot more again;
Demos provide a very good milestone to aim for. For example it meant that we where forced to get finished code working four months before the game shipped. Psychologically this was a huge boost to morale;
Demos really help to raise the public awareness of a game. This encourages Interplay to spend more on advertising and that again increases the awareness further.
[Yurg] Can each of you say how he or she making a conclusion - what game is "first of all TB, and only then CTB", and vice versa?
[Tony] That's a difficult one! I like CTB but then I prefer real-time games. I hope that TB does not disappoint people in the final game.
[Yurg] Any project has some initial ideas not implemented by whatever reasons. How long the list of such ideas for Tactics? What were the ideas caused most regret when abandoned?
[Tony] I don't think there was anything that I wanted to see that got dropped. I think it would have been nice to have some more movies in the game between the missions and we dropped those because we did not have time. Also I suppose we wanted to do more with cut scenes to progress the story. But on the whole I am pretty amazed at the amount of stuff we managed to get in!
[Yurg] There were many questions regarding the set of utilities to edit the game. Could you please tell about it? What are the utilities in this set, what them can do?
[Tony] We have a small suite of in house tools we use. The main one is the level editor which allows us to place tiles, entities, speech and scripting commands into the maps. It is possible to set up a stand alone level just using this tool and run it in the game. Then we have a campaign editor which allows us to link all the mission together with random encounters. Then we have various tools for creating the entities (things like NPCs, Weapons, Lights etc) and tools for processing graphics to make the tiles and sprites. A lot of the game is done in text files which are easy to change. Creating tiles and sprites gets pretty complex but building basic levels should be within the grasp of most people who are familiar with level editors.
[Yurg] Is it true you have a large mannequin of soldier in Power Armor in
your office? Is it possible to try this suit on some real person? :)
[Tony] I wish! If we have such a suit we would be fighting to wear it! We are trying to get a suit made but it's too expensive for us.
[Yurg] Please tell about your plans for nearest future. How much the chances to continue the work on Fallout Tactics? What conditions may cause you to create the full-fledged Add-on to the game?
[Tony] It all depends on how well Tactics sells. IF it does well then I think an expansion pack is a real possibility. IF it does badly then I don't think we will be doing any more Fallout! At the moment though judging from the interest in the press and the opinions of the fans it all looks pretty promising.
[Yurg] Apparently, you have some things left beyond the current project, some things that already may not be changed or requiring too much efforts on present development stage. Can you tell - IF some wonder could magically give you enough resources and time - what would you do with Fallout Tactics then?
[Tony] I would redo the sprite of the Power Armor to make it more retro. Not that there is anything technically wrong with the sprite, it's a great piece of art. It's just that it is a bit out of place in the Fallout Universe. But bear in mind that we had to design it over a year ago and Interplay approved everything we did. I would also like to spend more time refining the missions to get them play perfectly.
[Yurg] Let's pretend for a minute you are working on add-on or even
Tactics-2. What do you want to see in such project?
[Tony] Interesting question. For an expansion I would want to see some new armor (maybe combat armor) new weapons some new tile sets and some new multi-player games. Plus of course an entirely new story with new enemies for the BOS to fight. IF we did Tactics 2 then I think we would want to make some major changes and we would have to think seriously about moving away from pre-rendered tiles and sprites.
[Yurg] In conclusion - what are the problems you are currently working on?
[Tony] Getting everything finished on time! What tends to happen in the last stages of a game is that every time two things get fixed, you break something new! It's a slow tedious process to get everything finished and working simultaneously which can be very depressing. It's my job to make sure we get there though!
[Yurg] What can you say to all Fallout fans?
[Tony] Thank you! I know it's not the Fallout you want, but I think only Black Isle can deliver that, but you guys have given us a lot of support and your comments have really helped us. Now that it is very nearly completed I can say that Fallout Tactics is the game we set out to make and we are very proud of it.
[Yurg] Thank you a lot!